January 12, 2016

Leveraging Introversion in Networks for Change

“Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”

-Susan Cain


Image by Tom May (

The following is a slightly edited re-post of something I wrote in early 2014. Since writing this, I continue to see the need to be vigilant around not privileging extroversion in groups, to provide more opportunities to tap a range of cognitive styles to leverage fuller potential in networks.

Having read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, I feel both validated (as someone of more introverted tendencies as the years pass) and able to see with new eyes. IMHO, the book is well worth the read, and if the thought of tackling the 300 pages is daunting, you might enjoy a taste via Cain’s TED Talk.

Here I want to reflect on some of the insights Cain’s work has to offer collaboration and “net work” for change. Essentially, Cain reminds us of an important element of diversity that we should not overlook in our change efforts – different cognitive processing styles and ways of responding to social stimulation. Read More

January 8, 2016

A (Tough) Love Note to my Fellow White Folks

Jen Willsea at the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. March 2015.

Jen Willsea at the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. March 2015.

I am angry that the murder of Tamir Rice is being explained away as a “perfect storm of error”[1] in Cleveland, that Sandra Bland is being blamed for her own death in Texas, and that police in Chicago chose to “shoot first and ask questions later,”[2] killing two more unarmed African Americans the day after Christmas.

When will we stop recycling, reinventing, and reinforcing American racism—the same old oppression in new forms? Why have we allowed it to persist for so long and why do we continue to explain it away, denying the magnitude and depth of racism as it manifests the 21st century while wary of the ways our past is actually impacting the present? Read More

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January 5, 2016

Living Systems Lessons for Social Change Networks


A couple of years ago, I was turned on to the work of Louise Diamond. Diamond has been bringing insights from the dynamics of complex systems to peace building work for many years. Her efforts connect to a growing number of practitioners and thinkers who see the need to approach social change with an ecological and evolutionary mindset. In one of her papers, she extracts some of the “simple rules” that yield core practices for working in this way. Here I have adapted and adjusted some of them in application to network building for change and resilience in food systems. Read More